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Doosan fans protest in Jamsil to demand Nippert’s return

Jan 03,2018
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Doosan Bears and LG Twins fans protest in front of Jamsil Baseball Stadium in southern Seoul. [DOOSAN BEARS FAN]
The 2017 KBO season may have ended a while ago, but the fans still haven’t left Jamsil Baseball Stadium. In fact, the crowd braving the freezing temperatures outside the stadium in southern Seoul is growing as Doosan Bears fans turn out to demand the return of Dustin Nippert, joining LG Twins supporters who are protesting their general manager Yang Sang-moon.

While the Twins fans started their protest in November, the Bears supporters have only recently joined in. Fans of the club assembled on Dec. 30 and marched around the stadium with a banner featuring the star pitcher and replica uniforms.

Jamsil Baseball Stadium is home to both the Bears and the Twins.

Bears supporters have also been sticking messages in support of Nippert on the main entrance to the team’s office. Every Wednesday and Saturday since Dec. 20 a group of Bears fans have been gathering in front of the office demanding the return of Nippert.

Having played seven seasons for the Bears, the team decided not to extend his contract into next season, signing a one year deal with Josh Lindblom at $1.45 million instead. Throughout the seven seasons, Nippert played in 185 games, picking up 94 wins and 43 losses with a 3.48 ERA.

Though Nippert is the best foreign player the KBO has seen, his $2.1 million contract made the Bears think twice about re-signing the 36-year-old.

“Once we heard about Nippert and the club, there has been a strong opinion in the online community of 22,000 members that we need to express our request for the return of Nippert,” said one fan. “In the three protests, about 500 fans came out to Jamsil Baseball Stadium and wrote a message for Nippert. Doosan players like Chang Won-jun, Oh Jae-won, Yang Eui-ji and Kim Kang-kyul cheered us on when they visited the stadium to train.”

Fans plan to continue their rally until Jan. 31, the last day of player registration.

Twins fans are continuing their protest demanding the resignation of their general manager. Unlike the Bears, the Twins protest started as a one-man protest but more and more fans started to turn up. On Dec. 9, a total of 150 fans came to Jamsil Baseball Stadium to continue their rally.

“General manager Yang Sang-moon is not taking responsibility for the Twins failing to advance to the postseason,” said one fan. “And he turned away veteran players in order to rebuild the team. I’ve been protesting in front of the club for about 40 days and nothing has been done.”

Yang has been the Twins’ manager since 2014. In the four years that he has been at the helm the team has repeatedly alternated between finishing in fourth and ninth place. The fans plan to continue their protest indefinitely.

In the 36 years since the KBO was founded fans have often turned to protesting to get their voice heard. As the KBO now has more than eight million fans, there have been times when clubs have been forced to listen to their supporters. At the end of the 2014 season, a Hanwha Eagles fan started a protest in front of Hanwha Group headquarters in Seoul for the appointment of manager Kim Sung-keun - the club eventually accepted the request.

BY PARK SO-YOUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]